Thursday, 8 October 2015

10 years of caring – Menssana

Now we are 10!

It was a beautiful spring evening when the Menssana team celebrated their milestone.

On 1 October 2015, Menssana Mindbody Medicine turned 10 years old.

The team at Menssana celebrated this momentous occasion with a get-together with patients, fondly remembering Menssana's founder, the late Dr Chris Millar.

Here is the speech given by Soni Stecker that evening.

Welcome friends of Menssana!

Thank you for joining us here today to celebrate 10 years of existence of our practice.

In 2005 this practice was established as Ballarat Mind-Body Medicine by Dr Chris Millar. It was based on my late husband Chris’ vision of a practice that treats the whole person.

As the saying goes, behind every great man stands a woman. Although at first I still ran my own business in the publishing industry, soon enough I got co-opted as practice manager. I have been content to stand behind – or better: beside – the man who dreamed this practice into being, but since Chris’ tragic and untimely death I have had to step out of the shadows into the limelight. It is not a position I naturally inhabit.

Luckily at Menssana we are working as a team, which means I have colleagues who have been standing right beside and behind me during these last 11 difficult and turbulent months without Chris – Karen, Val, Emily, Gail, Julie, Melinda, Noelene, and Kevin.

As many of you will already know, Chris was a trailblazer, a thinker outside the square. His abiding passion was finding solutions to problems, innovative solutions, usually involving some sort of technology. As Kevin, our medical adviser, will be able to tell you, when he went through the cupboards he found gadgets that had never even been used for lack of time. Did I mention that Chris was a gadgets man? Some of the technology he used was micro-current and low level laser for pain relief; neurofeedback for all kinds of stress-related issues, and on and on.

Chris was one of a kind and he left some very big shoes to step into. You felt his presence when you came into contact with him. He was there for people. He was extremely tolerant, generous, funny, witty, knowledgeable, smart, and humble to boot. That’s what other people said; I prefer to call it ‘modest’. He did not blow his own trumpet, except for when he played his latest piece of music to a patient in the consultation! He collected jokes he could tell to patients, and they would bring him jokes in return. Some were not fit for retelling…

I put together a book of speeches given at his memorial service as a tribute to the man he was. The speeches reflect what some of his family, friends and colleagues thought of him. I gave it the title Whole-person Healer because that’s what he was: a true healer. I use this word deliberately. He was more than just a GP; he looked beyond the confines of western medicine and what he had been taught at medical school. He always strove to look deeper and wider and further than the conventional knowledge of the time. He had an insatiable thirst for knowledge. When he found a new innovative piece of equipment he wanted to get it for the practice straight away so he could help his patients better.

This was the kind of practice that he founded, and this is the kind of practice we would like to continue into the future: one where the doctors who work here are on a lifelong journey of enquiry into better, more innovative methods of healing, just as Chris was. We hope we have attracted some of these doctors to our clinic already.

This practice is a testament to Chris’ vision, and we – staff and patients alike – are the carriers of that vision. We who have had the privilege of knowing him, who have had the experience not only of the methods but of the person Chris Millar, can convey to the new GPs what we appreciate in a doctor, why we visit or work in this practice and not one down the road. This is a place to which we, the people who work here, actually like to come to work!

Australia is still far behind Europe in its acceptance of complementary medicine. 
As patients you can make a difference by voting with your feet and voice as to what type of medicine you prefer and expect, and by supporting those clinics that provide it.

Menssana Mindbody Medicine, a name that Chris had always preferred but wasn’t confident enough to use until last year, stands for the type of medicine that considers the whole person, their family situation, their social environment, their beliefs, and their mental state, as well as their body.

Chris’ dream lives on as this practice lives on, and we – the Menssana team – are doing our very best to keep it alive.

I am incredibly proud that as one of the last remaining small independently owned practices, we have come this far, we have made it to our first big milestone, 10 years of existence against the odds, and I’m sure so is Chris, wherever he is. I’m sure he is with us in spirit today and always.

I’m incredibly grateful for the expressions of encouragement and gratitude the team and I have received from patients and other health professionals about the importance of a practice such as ours. Long may it continue in the spirit that Chris intended.

Let’s raise our glasses to that.

1 comment:

  1. What a great speech and an encouragement to keep Chris' vision alive.
    "...Chris’ dream lives on as this practice lives on, and we – the Menssana team – are doing our very best to keep it alive."